Music plays a central role in the Catholic life of the Vaughan. Not only is it an aesthetic end in itself, but, more importantly, it serves as a medium through which the glory of God is proclaimed in the liturgical life of the School. We take great pride in the very high standards of our music-making.
Housed in the acclaimed New Music Rooms, the Vaughan’s Music Department is made up of more than forty staff and gives around four hundred individual music lessons each week.
The Vaughan's Music Department is an education partner of Southbank Sinfonia, the UK's orchestra of young professionals. We also have close links with the English Chamber Orchestra, The Royal Opera House, English National Opera and Opera Holland Park.
The Music Department now has a blog which will contain our latest news: http://cvmsmusic.blogspot.co.uk/
Music lessons at Cardinal Vaughan are practical from day one and many pupils enjoy the subject, achieving outstanding academic results at all levels. The School’s nationally renowned new music facilities ensure that music lessons take place in an inspiring environment.
Key Stage Three
At Key Stage Three boys are taught music in half-size classes (averaging 14 boys). This allows the individual attention necessary to be given. All music lessons are practical and there is a focus on the development of performing and composing skills, alongside developing musical understanding and knowledge.
A wide range of topics are explored including music from the Western Classical tradition, popular music and jazz, folk music and world music. Boys can expect to play keyboards, sing, play percussion instruments, working on their own and in groups. There is extensive use of Music ICT and boys use music computers from the First Form to explore compositional techniques.
Key Stage Four
GCSE Music is a very popular subject with large numbers of boys opting for it every year.
The Department follows the EDEXCEL Course which has the following areas of study:
Western Classical Music 1600-1899
Music in the Twentieth Century
Popular Music in Context
Pupils are required to:
Perform, both solo and in an ensemble - this can be on any instrument or indeed the computer (30%).
Compose two pieces of music lasting between two and four minutes (30%).
Take a Listening Exam based on the following twelve Set Works studied during the course (40%).
Area of Study 1 – Western classical music 1600-1899
- G F HANDEL: CHORUS: AND THE GLORY OF THE LORD FROM MESSIAH, HWV 56
- W A MOZART: 1ST MOVEMENT FROM SYMPHONY NO. 40 IN G MINOR, K 550
- F CHOPIN: PRELUDE NO 15 IN D FLAT MAJOR, OP. 28
Area of Study 2 – Music in the 20th century
- A SCHOENBERG: PERIPETIE FROM FIVE ORCHESTRAL PIECES, OP. 16
- L BERNSTEIN: SOMETHING’S COMING FROM WEST SIDE STORY
- S REICH: 3RD MOVEMENT (FAST) FROM ELECTRIC COUNTERPOINT
Area of Study 3 – Popular music in context
- M DAVIS: ALL BLUES FROM THE ALBUM KIND OF BLUE
- J BUCKLEY: GRACE FROM THE ALBUM GRACE
- MOBY: WHY DOES MY HEART FEEL SO BAD? FROM THE ALBUM PLAY
Area of Study 4 – World music
- CAPERCAILLIE: SKYE WAULKING SONG FROM THE ALBUM NÀDURRA
- A SHANKAR: RAG DESH FROM THE ALBUM LIVE AT CARNEGIE HALL
- KOKO: YIRI
Music in the Sixth Form
The Music Department offers the new and extremely rewarding Cambridge Pre U (Pre University) in the Sixth Form, one of very few state Schools in the country to do so. You will learn to perform, compose freely, write pastiche music, orchestrate and arrange music, listen and analyse, write essays, study musical history and sociology, all within a practical framework. Already very highly thought of by Universities, the Pre U course will give you the opportunity to develop your musical potential to the full.
You must play an instrument/sing to a standard equivalent to at least Grade V Associated Board standard and also have passed the Grade V Theory Examination to take this subject in the Sixth Form. Musicians working in all styles can take this subject but you must be able to read and write music and have a genuine interest in a wide variety of music, including music from the classical tradition.
Please note that there are no Exams in the Lower Sixth with the Music Pre U – all exams are taken at the end of the two years. Those who are interested in taking only an AS in Music should speak to the Director of Music at the Open Evenings.
The Pre U Music course comprises four components, all taken at the end of the Upper Sixth.
1 Listening, Analysis and Historical Study 30% Written papers (3hrs)
2 Performance 22.5%
25-30 minutes marked by a visiting examiner
3 Composing 22.5%
2 hr Exam plus coursework plus a commissioned composition
4 Option – One of: 25%
Recent Sixth Form Music students have gone on to read a wide variety of subjects at University including Music, many at Oxbridge and the other most highly regarded Universities, including the Music Conservatoires. Music is regarded very highly by University Admission Tutors for all subjects because of the self-discipline and the variety of skills it requires. The Music Industry in all its guises offers endless opportunities to those with the talent and motivation.
Music Technology plays a significant role at all levels of music-making at Cardinal Vaughan and boys will work with music computers from the start of the First Form.
The School is very fortunate to have state-of-the-art recording and computer facilities and all pupils will use Music Technology as part of their curriculum. Also available in the Sixth Form is an A Level Course in Music Technology.
AS/A2 MUSIC TECHNOLOGY (EDEXCEL)
Music Technology is the study and performance of music through the use of computers and recording equipment. It prepares you for working in the Music Industry and focuses on music from the Popular tradition and Jazz. The work is largely practical and will focus on developing skills when working in music computer software (Logic 8 and Sibelius 6) alongside learning recording techniques using the Vaughan’s recording studio facilities.
What will I learn on this course?
You will complete three Areas of study. These are:
- THE PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF MUSIC TECHNOLOGY
- POPULAR MUSIC STYLES SINCE 1910
- THE DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY-BASED MUSIC
Through these Areas of Study you will learn how to:
- PRODUCE PERFORMANCES USING SEQUENCING SOFTWARE IN A RANGE OF MUSICAL STYLES
- DEVELOP THE SKILLS REQUIRED TO MAKE HIGH QUALITY RECORDINGS OF MUSICAL PERFORMANCES
- LEARN HOW TO COMPOSE AND ARRANGE USING TECHNOLOGY
- DEVELOP YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE PRINCIPLES AND DEVELOPMENT OF MUSIC TECHNOLOGY
Anyone who has a keen interest in music technology, who enjoys creating and listening to different styles of popular music, and who wishes to extend their practical experience and understanding of music technology would be suited to this course. Pupils should be clear, however, that this is a demanding A Level, definitely not a ‘soft option’. It works well if taken alongside Music A Level but works equally well by itself. It is not necessary to play an instrument to take this course although basic keyboard skills are a definite advantage.
The AS qualification consists of the following units:
- UNIT 1: PART (A) PORTFOLIO OF TECHNOLOGY 1 (70% OF AS, 35% OF A2)
- UNIT 2: PART (B) LISTENING AND ANALYSING (30% OF AS, 15% OF A2)
The A 2 qualification consists of the following units:
- UNIT 3: PART (A) PORTFOLIO OF TECHNOLOGY 2 (30% OF A2)
- UNIT 4: PART (B) ANALYSING AND PRODUCING (20% OF A2)
Pupils who have studied Music Technology have gone onto a wide variety of university courses and careers including working as recording engineers, producers, popular composers and arrangers and recording artists.
The Vaughan has a long tradition of fine choral singing both within the celebration of the liturgy and at public concerts. Today these standards are maintained in the School's three main choirs, the Schola Cantorum, the School Choir, and the Sixth Form Choir.
The Schola Cantorum is an auditioning boys choir, whose main responsibility lies in the provision of music for the School’s liturgy. Besides singing at the School's weekly Masses and Feast Day celebrations, the Schola performs widely around London and has traveled all over the world singing for audiences that have, on two occasions, included the Holy Father. The choir sings frequently at Westminster Cathedral. The Schola has recorded several CD recordings, including Praise to the Holiest, a collection of well-loved Catholic hymns, Sing In Exultation, a selection of Christmas music, and Mendelssohn's Lauda Sion. A new CD of Marian music, entitled In Honour of Our Lady, will be released in October 2013. Recent concert performances have included Bach's St John Passion, Monteverdi's Vespers and Durufle's Requiem. The Schola has led the Sunday Morning Worship programe on BBC Radio Four twice in recent years and has also appeared on BBC Songs of Praise. The Schola can also be heard on several film soundtracks including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Tim Burton's Dark Shadows and the Oscar-winning score for Life of Pi. Annual tours take place, with recent destinations including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Venice, Paris, Rome, Assisi, Vienna, Barcelona and Krakow.
This video shows the Schola singing in a concert in Krakow during their Tour in 2013.
In September 2010 boys from the Schola made their Proms debut when they appeared alongside the Monteverdi Choir and Sir John Eliot Gardiner in a performance of the Monteverdi Vespers. This performance was followed by similar appearances at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford and Durham Cathedral.
The Schola's trebles frequently sing in professional contexts and have worked with the London Symphony Orchestra, The Bach Choir and The Choir of London. The School has firm links with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden where boys have performed in many productions including Gloriana, Suor Angelica, Tannhäuser, Tosca, La Boheme, Billy Budd, the world premiere of Lorin Maazel's opera 1984 and Turandot. Boys also sing with English National Opera, most recently appearing in their productions of Billy Budd, Carmen and La Boheme. Boys have also performed with local opera company Opera Holland Park.
Full details on the Schola's current activities can be found at www.scholacantorum.co.uk
The School Choir offers choral opportunities for all boys and girls who wish to take part. The choir, numbering around one hundred and forty pupils, performs at the School’s major concerts throughout year. Recent repertoire has included JS Bach's B Minor Mass, St Matthew Passion, St John Passion, Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, Verdi's Requiem, Brahms', A German Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius, Orff's Carmina Burana, Handel's Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Mozart’s Requiem and C minor Mass, Poulenc's Gloria and Puccini's Messe di Gloria. At the Vaughan's Gala Concert, at St John's Smith Square in October 2002, the choir sang with Sir Thomas Allen in a performance of Vaughan Williams's Five Mystical Songs. In March 2005 the choir performed Bach's St John Passion in Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square and in December 2006 performed Handel's Messiah. The soloists at these concerts included Michael Chance, Barry Banks, Patrizia Kwella and John Mark Ainsley.
This is the closing moments of the performance of the St Matthew Passion in March 2013.
The Choir undertook its first tour abroad in April 2004 when some eighty pupils traveled to Germany, performing in the towns of Boppard and Koblenz. Some ninety members of the School Choir toured the USA in February 2006, singing at Washington National Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. In March 2008 104 members of the choir traveled to Salzburg and Vienna, performing in the Stephensdom in Vienna and at Salzburg Cathedral. In April 2010 the choir and orchestra toured to Prague and the surrounding area giving three sold-out concerts to very welcoming audiences. In February 2012 the choir traveled to California, giving concerts in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles. The School Choir traveled to Madrid in February 2014, siniging in the Cathedrals of Toledo, Segovia and Madrid.
The repertoire of the Sixth Form Choir, the School's mixed voice choir is varied, including music in more popular styles. The choir performs at the School's major concerts and provides music for the Sixth Form Masses and other services. The Choir sings regularly at St James’s, Spanish Place and has sung Choral Evensong at The Queen's College, Oxford.
Within the Sixth Form there are also several smaller singing ensembles, including a Girls Choir, the Chamber Choir and close harmony singing groups.
The standard of the School's Instrumental Music is very high. More than four hundred instrumental and singing lessons are given each week and pupils have on offer just about every conceivable instrumental ensemble.
A large team of well-qualified, highly experienced visiting teachers guide the pupils in their instrumental studies.
Bursaries are available for those unable to pay for instrumental tuition. The School also offers a small number of Sixth Form Music Bursaries given to more advanced players on the basis of involvement in the School's music-making and the tutoring of younger pupils in their instrument.
Many junior ensembles cater for the needs of the younger boys, whilst a Concert Band and Senior String Ensemble offers the more advanced pupils the opportunity to discover the symphonic band and classical string repertoire. The First Orchestra tackles challenging works from across the orchestral repertoire. Recent concert items have included Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherezade, Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony, Borodin's Second Symphony, Sibelius' Second and Fifth Symphonies, Brahms' Second Symphony, Schumann's First Symphony, Beethoven's Fifth and Seventh Symphonies, Mussorgsky's Night on a Bare Mountain, Schubert’s 'Unfinished' Symphony, Copland's Appalachian Spring, Säint-Säens' Danse Macbre, Eric Coates' London Suite and Dvorak's Eighth and Ninth Symphonies. Pupils have performed many concertos with the Orchestra, including Haydn and Hummel's Trumpet Concertos, Elgar's Cello Concerto, Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, Rachmaninov's Second Piano Concerto and the same composer's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. In April 2004, the Orchestra toured the Rhine Valley area of Germany and in March 2008 it performed in Vienna and Salzburg. Members of the Orchestra toured in Prague in April 2010, performing Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and accompanying the choir in Mozart's Requiem. In July 2012 the Orchestra performed Grieg's Piano Concerto in Symphony Hall, Birmingham as part of the National Festival of Music for Youth.
The School is very fortunate to have strong links with a number of London's professional orchestras, in particular the English Chamber Orchestra, members of which have been involved in numerous projects with the pupils. The School has since 2008 been an education partner of Southbank Sinfonia, the UK's orchestra for young professional musicians. An annual period of residency sees the Southbank Sinfonia prepare a concert alongside the Vaughan's most advanced orchestral players.
You can hear an extract from a recent performance of Mendelssohn's First Piano Concerto (soloist, Dominic Doutney, 3rd Form).
The Big Band, is the School's busiest instrumental ensemble with a repertoire ranging from Glen Miller to Gordon Goodwin and beyond. The Band has performed at numerous functions in and around London, including at the Barbican Concert Hall, the Royal Festival Hall and The Queen Elizabeth Hall and reached the final of the National Festival of Music for Youth on six occasions, most recently in 2012 where it was commended for its performance. The Band played as part of the School Proms in October 2010 at the Royal Albert Hall and in March 2011 gave a concert at the world famous Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club. The Band has toured in Paris (1999), Barcelona (2001), Holland (2003), the USA (2006) and Hong Kong (2013). Regular performers at the famous Bull's Head, Barnes, London's oldest jazz venue, the Band has also performed at the Cheltenham International Jazz Festival, the Thames Festival and at all of London's major concert halls.
At the Vaughan's Gala Concert in October 2002 the Band accompanied internationally renowned jazz singer Salena Jones and has also worked with American jazz giant Bob Mintzer on a chart commissioned from him by the Band. In 2009 the Band was very fortunate to work with saxophonist Jason Yarde, performing with him at St John’s, Smith Square. In March 2013 the Band worked with jazz legend Arturo Sandoval when he visited the School for a workshop. The Band has recorded two CDs,The Heat's On and Moment's Notice. These recordings are available from the School Shop.
The School enters pupils for Practical and Theory Examinations using the ABRSM and Trinity examination boards. More than 300 exams were passed in the last academic year.
Concerts & Tours
The Music Department gives several major concerts each year, numerous smaller evening recitals and many other performances besides. These events, held both at the School and at prestigious venues in London and beyond, ensure that pupils at the Vaughan are offered remarkable performing opportunities.
Michaelmas term sees the annual celebration of the Patron Saint of music, St. Cecilia, whose Feast Day is marked by a large-scale choral orchestral concert. In addition, in recent years the School has held a choral concert in early December at St James’s, Spanish Place: repertoire performed has included Walton's Belshazzar's Feast, Verdi Requiem, Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Handel’s Messiah. A traditional Service of Lessons and Carols, held at Our Lady of Victories Church, Kensington ends the term. The Lent Term includes the Spring Instrumental Concert and the Easter Concert. The Spring Concert give the First Orchestra opportunity to perform at length whilst the Easter Concert is often held at St John’s, Smith Square or Cadogan Hall. The less formal Summer Concert ends the year, complete with refreshments and music from the Big Band.
Since 2008 the School has enjoyed a formal partnership with Southbank Sinfonia, London's orchestra of young professionals. Concerts, with Southbank Sinfonia performing alongside the Vaughan's Chamber Orchestra, have been given at the Jerwood Hall at LSO St Lukes, Cadogan Hall and Wathen Hall, St Paul's School with performances of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, Dvorak's New World Symphony, Brahms Second Symphony and Sibelius Second Symphony the main works.
Each term there is a Junior Concert where the youngest boys have the opportunity to develop their performance skills. An Early Evening Recital Series runs throughout the year and allows soloists and chamber groups to perform. In the Lent Term the Department runs the Annual Music Competition, with heats leading to a final: the competition is judged by a panel of distinguished visiting adjudicators.
In addition, the Schola Cantorum and the Big Band are especially busy providing music at various services and events in and around London. A particular highlight for the Schola Cantorum are the half-termly visits to Westminster Cathedral whilst the Big Band appears regularly at The Bull's Head, Barnes, London's oldest jazz venue.
Pupils frequently work with professional groups outside of School, including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Choir of London, the Bach, Choir, Opera Holland Park, English National Opera and the Royal Opera, Covent Garden.
At the end of each School year the Music Department collaborates with the School's English Department to stage a full-scale musical. Recent productions have been as follows:
- 1995 GUYS AND DOLLS
- 1996 NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
- 1997 OKLAHOMA!
- 1998 RETURN TO THE FORBIDDEN PLANET
- 1999 OLIVER!
- 2000 GUYS AND DOLLS
- 2001 JOSEPH AND THE TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT
- 2002 WEST SIDE STORY
- 2003 THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
- 2004 KISS ME KATE
- 2005 BUGSY MALONE
- 2005 MY FAIR LADY
- 2006 OKLAHOMA!
- 2007 CRAZY FOR YOU
- 2008 ANYTHING GOES
- 2009 CAROUSEL
- 2010 SWEENEY TODD
- 2011 OLIVER!
- 2012 GUYS AND DOLLS
- 2013 THE PAJAMA GAME
- 2014 WEST SIDE STORY
- 2015 INTO THE WOODS
- 2016 LES MISERABLES
- 2017 SWEENEY TODD
The Music Department organises at least one foreign tour each year. Recent trips have been as follows:
- 1999 BIG BAND TOUR OF PARIS
- 2000 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO PARIS
- 2001 BIG BAND TOUR TO BARCELONA
- 2002 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO ROME
- 2003 BIG BAND TOUR TO HOLLAND
- 2004 SCHOOL CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA TOUR TO GERMANY
- 2005 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO ROME AND ASSISI
- 2006 SCHOOL CHOIR AND BIG BAND TOUR TO THE USA
- 2007 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO BARCELONA
- 2007 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO PARIS
- 2008 SCHOOL CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA TOUR TO AUSTRIA
- 2008 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO VENICE
- 2010 SCHOOL CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA TOUR TO PRAGUE
- 2011 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO ROME
- 2012 SCHOOL CHOIR TOUR TO CALIFORNIA
- 2013 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO POLAND
- 2013 BIG BAND TOUR TO HONG KONG
- 2014 SCHOOL CHOIR TOUR TO MADRID
- 2015 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR TO THE USA
- 2016 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR OF ROME
- 2017 SCHOLA CANTORUM TOUR OF SOUTH AFRICA
The Vaughan Centre for Young Musicians (VCYM), held from 4.30-6.30 pm, on ten Mondays each term, offers Primary School (age 8-11) boys the opportunity to extend their music curriculum and receive specialist music tuition.
The VCYM provides each boy who attends with one instrumental lesson (either individual or in a pair for beginners on certain instruments) lasting between twenty and thirty minutes. Instruments offered are Piano, Organ, Violin, Viola, Cello, Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Trumpet, French Horn, Trombone & Guitar. Boys are provided with instruments on which to learn.
The remaining time is spent in musicianship classes, where the boys play in an orchestra, sing in a choir, use music technology, receive aural and rhythmic training and composing lessons. At the end of each term there is an informal concert where the boys perform. Reports are written twice yearly (at Christmas and Summer).
The VCYM costs £28.50 per session, £285 per term, payable in advance.
Auditions for VCYM 2017-18 have now taken place. Occasionally places become available during the year; please contact Mrs T Watkins email WatkiT@cvms.co.uk if interested in applying.
Attending VCYM has given my son a wonderful head start with his music-making.